Dipping into Flaubert in preparation for a sojourn to France ooh la la. Madame Bovary was the novel that scandalised a nation on publication in 1857 and ultimately resulted in Flaubert's prosecution for immorality. Quelle horreur.
I am loving every word, every phrase, every paragraph. One quarter of the way in and here are some passages that sing...
On the sudden death of Charles Bovary's first wife:
"...But the damage had been done. A week later, as she was hanging out the washing in the yard, she had a spasm, and spat blood; and on the following day, as Charles was drawing the curtains, his back to her, she exclaimed: 'Oh God!' heaved a sigh and fell unconscious. She was dead! It was incredible!"
On entering the Les Bertaux farmhouse where he at first failed to notice Emma's presence:
"...the shutters were closed. Through the chinks in the wood the sunshine came streaking across the floor in long slender lines that broke on the corners of the furniture and flickered on the ceiling."
On a green silk cigar case found along the road from La Vaubyessard to Rouen:
"Love had breathed through the meshes of the canvas; every stitch has fastened there a yearning or a memory; and all those interwoven threads of silk were but a projection of that same silent passion."
I'm up to the part where Charles and Emma have just moved to Yonville and Madame Bovary has taken a walk with young Leon, and Leon "didn't know how to proceed, being torn between fear of making a false move, and desire for an intimacy which he accounted well nigh impossible."...
Poor old Flaubert only made a measly 500 francs for the first five years' sales of Madame Bovary. I wonder how many millions of copies have sold since...?